Parishes: Leysdown

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Leysdown', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798), pp. 263-271. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: Leysdown", in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798) 263-271. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

Hasted, Edward. "Parishes: Leysdown", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6, (Canterbury, 1798). 263-271. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

In this section


LIES the next parish to Warden south-eastward. It was called in antient Latin deeds Lesduna, and in others Leysdon, and took its name most probably from the Saxon words Leswe, which fignisies a pasture, and dune, an open high situation.

THE PARISH is situated mostly on high ground. It is bounded by the isle of Harty on the south, and the cliffs on the sea shore on the north. The lands are almost all pasture, but between this place and Eastchurch, they consist of large uniclosed downs. There is no village, nor any thing further worth notice in it. The manor of Newington extends over a part of this parish.

In the year 1750, Mr. Jacob, of Faversham, discovered in this parish, the acetabulum of an elephant, sticking in the clay, which was partly washed away from the cliff, and at the same time other parts of one, as one of the spinal vertebræ, a thigh-bone four feet long, and numberless other fragments, too rotten to be taken up entire. Some time after which, on a further search, he found an elephant's tusk, and as it lay entire to appearance took its dimensions, which were, in length eight feet, and in circumserence, in the middle, twelve inches; but it fell to pieces in endeavouring to raise it. He also found part of a scapula, its sinus almost entire, and three inches diameter, and some pieces of the grinders, and a larger one, at another time, in a different part of the island. The pyrites, however, abounded so much in the clay, wherein these bones were embedded, that it prevented their being found in a tolerable perfect state; but these fragments were sufficient to shew, that this elephant was as large as that mentioned by Fentzelius, in the Philosophical Tranfactions. Mr. Jacob's account of the above discovery was published in the above Transactions, vol. xlviii. pt. ii. p. 626. The remedy which has lately been applied to prevent the destruction of these fossil bones, &c. caused by their being so much impregnated with pyritical matter, is to coat them with a very thin solution of carpenter's glue dissolved, which has been found to answer the purpose well hitherto.

THIS PARISH is within the paramount manor of Milton, subordinate to which are the two manors of Leysdown within it, the most eminent of which, stiled, without any addition or distinction to the name,

THE MANOR OF LEYSDOWN seems to have been given by king Henry II. to the church of the Holy Trinity, now Christ-church, in Canterbury, as of the value of twenty-five pounds yearly rent; accordingly, the prior of it, in the 7th year of Edward I. claimed, and was allowed, all the privileges of a manor here.

King Edward II. by his charter, dated July 14, in his 10th year, granted to the prior and convent freewarren in all the demesne lands which they were possessed of in this parish, among others, in the 30th year of his grandfather Henry III. (fn. 1) In which situation this manor continued till the dissolution of the priory in the 31st year of Henry VIII. when it was, with all the lands and possessions of it, surrendered into the king's hands.

The manor of Leysdown did not remain long in the hands of the crown, for the king settled it by his dotation-charter, in his 33d year, on his new-erected dean and chapter of Canterbury, part of whose possessions it now remains. A court-leet and court baron is held for this manor.

In the 33d year of Henry VIII. Thomas Spylman was lessee of this manor, from which name, in the beginning of the reign of queen Elizabeth, the interest in the lease of it had become vested in Martin Puresoy; in the reign of king James I. it had passed to Thompson; after which it came to Harris, in which it remained till the reign of king George II. when the term of the lease of it not being renewed as usual, it was suffered to expire, and the dean and chapter, in 1742, vested it in trustees, for their joint uses, by whom it was the next year assigned to the Rev. Julius Deedes, a prebendary of their own body, and again afterwards by his heirs of Sir John Filmer, bart. of East Sutton, who married Miss Dorothy Deedes, his daughter. Sir John Filmer died in 1797, and by his will gave his interest in this estate to his surviving widow, who has sold it to the occupier of it, and he is now possessed of her interest in the lease of it.

Mr. Somner, in his Treatise on Gavelkind, p. 28, says, that there was antiently in this manor a costumary rent paid, called weregavel, which was sometimes more, sometimes less, and that it was paid for the wears or kiddels, which the inhabitants of this place were privileged to pitch on the sea-coasts, for the catching of fish, until it was forbidden by Magna Charta, to set them in the Thames or Medway, or any place in England, excepting the sea-coasts.

THE OTHER MANOR in this parish, called also THE MANOR OF LEYSDOWN, was antiently part of the possessions of that branch of the family of Grey, seated at Rotherfield, in Oxfordshire, a descendant of which, John de Grey, of Rotherfield, was owner of it in the reign of king Edward I. (fn. 2) in the 25th year of which reign he had summons to parliament among the barons of this realm. His son John died possessed of it, as appears by the inquisition taken after his death, in the 33d year of that reign, by the description of forty shillings yearly rent, with its appurtenances, in Leysdown, held of the king in capite by the service of paying for it, for ward to Dover castle, and by the service of the tenth part of one knight's fee, in lieu of all other service.

Bartholomew de Grey, his descendant, died possessed of this manor in the 2d year of Henry IV. leaving Joane his daughter and heir, afterwards married to Sir John Deincourt, by whom she had one son and two daughters, Alice and Margaret, the former of whom married to William, lord Lovel, seems to have entitled her husband to the possession of this manor. His grandson Francis, lord Lovel, was in the 22d year of king Edward IV. created viscount Lovel, and became afterwards a great favorite of Richard III. on whose part he was present at the battle of Bosworth, and after the loss of it fled beyond sea, but returning in support of Lambert Simnell, the counterseit duke of York, he was slain in the battle of Stoke, near Newark, in the 3d year of Henry VII.

In the 1st year of which reign an act had passed for his conviction and attainder, among others, as did another for his attainder in particular, in the 11th year of it; before which, however, this manor had been granted by the crown to William Cheney, esq. of Shurland, whose grandson Henry, lord Cheney, exchanged it with queen Elizabeth for other lands. How it passed afterwards I have not found; but it was in later times possessed by Sir Thomas Stevens, since which it has passed in like manner as the manor of Warden beforedescribed, down to Samuel-Elias Sawbridge, esq. of Ollantigh, the present possessor of it.

NUTS, as it is vulgarly called, but in antient courtrolls written Notts, is a small manor in this parish, which was so named from a family of that name owners of it, who continued so for several generations; but about the beginning of king Edward IV.'s reign it was alienated from thence to Bartholomew, a family possessed of much land about Linsted, Throwley, and other places in that neighbourhood; they implanted their name on part of this estate, which from thenceforward was called Bartholomew's farm, and continued proprietors of it till the reign of Henry VII. when it was alienated to William Cheney, esq. of Shurland, whose grandson Henry, lord Cheney, having in the 3d year of queen Elizabeth levied a fine of all his lands, soon afterwards alienated it to Christopher Sampson, esq. who bore for his arms, Argent, a castle triple towered, sable; (fn. 3) he afterwards resided at Nutts, and left three sons, of whom Anthony the eldest, possessed this manor, which he sold, with Bartholomew farm and Churchfield, another part of it likewise, to Stephen Osborne, esq. afterwards of Nutts, descended from the family of that name seated at Hartlip, whose arms he likewise bore, and he was owner of it in the 21st year of queen Elizabeth, anno 1578; soon after which this estate seems to have been alienated in parcels to different persons, but THE MANOR OF NUTTS in particular, continued in the family of Osborne, and on the death of Stephen Osborne before mentioned, descended to his son John, whose grandson William leaving an only daughter and heir Anne. she carried this manor in marriage to Mr. Leonard Brandon, whose son Leonard Brandon, dying s. p. it came to his sister Margaret Brandon, who devised it to the four daughters of Sir John Hinde Cotton, bart. Jane, the wife of Thomas Hart, esq. Elizabeth-Stuart, of Thomas Bowdler, esq. and Frances and Mary Cotton, and they, about the year 1752, joined in the conveyance of it to Edward Jacob, esq. of Faversham, F.R.S. well known to the learned as an antiquarian and a naturalist, as well by his History of Faversham, his Plantæ Favershamienses, Fossilia Shepeiana, as other works. He bore for his arms, Or, on a canton gules, an eagle displayed of the first. He died in 1788, leaving his widow Mrs. Jacob surviving, and several sons and daughters, in whom by his will this manor is now vested.

BUT BARTHOLOMEW'S FARM was sold off by Ofborne to Christopher Finch, from which name it was sold in the reign of Charles I. to John Crooke, and from thence again, about the year 1725, to Thomas Stevens, esq. afterwards knighted, (fn. 4) since which it has passed in like manner as the rest of his estates in this parish and Warden, as before-described, down to Samuel-Elias Sawbridge, esq. of Ollantigh, the present owner of it.

William Cheney, esq. of Shepey, owner of Nutts, and the other estates before-mentioned, anno 10 king Henry VII. 1411, granted to John Woley and Robert de Rowe, wardens of Rochester bridge, a moiety of four pounds annually as a rent charge, out of lands and tenements, in the village of Leysdown, as well for the keeping of the bridge, as for maintaining three chaplains for divine celebration in the chapel-house near it, for ever, and for praying for the souls of all the deceased benefactors of it; which yearly rent-charge still continues to be paid to the wardens for the time being, and is applied, in like manner as the rest of the revenues of the bridge, towards the support and maintenance of it.

In the 37th year of king Henry VIIIth.'s reign, William Bury conveyed to that king by deed, a capital messuage, called Nutts, several marsh-lands, and other premises in Mynstre, in Shepey, but what connection it had with Nutts, in this parish, I do not know. (fn. 5)

LEYSDOWN is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Sittingborne.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Clement, was, till within these few years, in a most dilapidated state. The tower of it, which was of good workmanship, embattled, and very antient, hung over towards the south, more than seven feet out of the perpendicular line, like that of Florence; and the body of the church too, which appeared to have been formerly much larger, had many years since fallen down, so that divine service was for some time performed in a shed, built up for that purpose. In the room of this there has been erected a in all neat building, of one isle, with a wooden turret at the west end, in which there is one bell. It seems not to extend so far westward as the former building, for there is the space of two or three yards between the west end of it and the remaining part of the old tower, which joined to the former church. This tower has been taken down to within about eight feet from the ground; what remains, however, sufficiently shews the antiquity and costliness of it, and the tremendous posture in which it stood.

The church of Leysdown was given, with its appurtenances, by Robert de Arsic, to the priory of St. Radigund, alias Bradsole, near Dover, with the consent of archbishop Stephen Langton, which gift was confirmed by Henry III. and by Edward II. by his charter of inspeximus, in his 8th year.

This church was appropriated to that priory, and a vicarage endowed in it, anno 8 Henry III. 1223 (fn. 6) In which state it remained till the dissolution of it in the 27th year of that reign, in consequence of the act passed that year for the suppression of all such houses, whose revenues did not amount to the clear yearly value of two hundred pounds, by which this priory, the total annual revenues of which did not amount to that sum, was suppressed, and, together with all its possessions, became vested in the crown, whence the whole of them were, that very year, exchanged by the king with the archbishop of Canterbury, for other lands, who again, in the same year, exchanged them back again with the king for other premises, an act then specially passed for the purpose; but in this exchange, among other exceptions, was that of all churches and advowsons of vicarages, by which means the appropriation of the church of Leysdown, together with the advowson, of the vicarage, remained part of the possessions of the archbishopric, and continues so at this time.

It is now a discharged living, in the king's books, of the clear yearly certified value of forty-eight pounds, the yearly tenths of it being 1l. 1s.

In 1577 the communicants here were twenty-four; in 1640 the communicants were forty-six, and the annual value of the vicarage sixty pounds.

In 1643 the rectory appropriate was held in lease by Thomas Bradbridge, at the yearly rent of one pound.

Church of Leysdown.

Or by whom presented.
The Archbishon of Canterbury. John Cooper, Nov. 28, 1586, resigned 1613
John Lyeham, A.B. February 5. 1613.
The King. George Robertson, clerk, May 2, 1661.
The Archbishop. Onesephorus Paul, A. M. June 15, 1668.
John Tudor, L.L.B. April 15, 1670. (fn. 7)
Robert Eaton, A. M. Jan. 23, 1689, obt. 1702. (fn. 7)
John Cumberland, Jan. 1702, obt. Jan. 17, 1731. (fn. 7)
William Owens, A. M. June 3, 1731, obt. June 2, 1732. (fn. 7)
John Fetherston, July 18, 1732, resigned 1734. (fn. 7)
John Woodroose, A. M. May 7, 1734. (fn. 7)
William Howdell, A. M. March 14, 1735, obt. 1756. (fn. 8)
John Russell, March 29, 1756, resingned 1757.
John Taylor Lambe, Feb. 16, 1757.
Life. M. Stretch, 1762, resigned 1786. (fn. 9)
David Martin, 1786, the present vicar.


  • 1. Regist. Eccl. Christi, Cant. cart. 134. Tan. Mon. p. 201.
  • 2. See the descent of the Greys, vol.i. of this history. p. 156.
  • 3. Vistn. co. of Kent, pedigree of Sampson.
  • 4. Records belonging to Rochester bridge.
  • 5. See Augt. off. Deeds of Purchase and Exchange, D. 84.
  • 6. See Ducarel's Rep. edit. 2d. p. 72.
  • 7. Also rectors of Warden.
  • 8. Also rector of Bircholt, by dispensation.
  • 9. He exchanged with his successor for the vicarage of Betherlden.